Isolated And Watched: Tamil Family Speaks Out From Christmas Island
The mother of a Tamil family on the brink of deportation has broken down as she described the family's living conditions on Christmas Island.
Priya, Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, were quietly moved to Christmas Island last Friday ahead of a final court decision.
On Wednesday, the family's legal case was adjourned until Friday leaving them no closer to learning whether they will be allowed to remain in Australia.
Speaking to 10 News First through friend Angela Fredericks, Priya explained that the family is isolated and alone, with no other detainees with them and have "six to eight guards" watching their every move.
"All the time, night time they come in my bedroom every two hours, three hours," Priya told 10 News First.
She explained that they were sleeping in very small rooms with "no safety".
Protests and vigils have been held right around the country over the past week, while the town of Biloela has rallied behind the family, calling for the family to be allowed to stay.
"All of the people saying prayers and giving blessings, I thank you so much," Priya said. "There is so much love, we're very lucky."
"I miss all of you," she said as she broke down in tears. "My beautiful friends, I miss them."
"This is a very hard time".
The Sri Lankan family had been living in the Queensland town of Biloela for close to four years but were bundled up in a pre-dawn raid in March 2018 after Priya's bridging visa expired, and there were transported to Melbourne.
On Thursday night, they were put on a plane bound for Sri Lanka, but their deportation halted in mid-air after a Melbourne judge granted a last-minute injunction.
Their aircraft was forced to land in Darwin, the family were sent to Christmas Island hours later and granted a reprieve until today.
A succession of courts, including the High Court, have previously found the parents and the eldest child were not refugees and do not qualify for Australia's protection.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared he would not intervene to stop the Tamil family from being deported, despite increasing pressure from Labor, former Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and radio star Alan Jones to let the family stay in the country.
He explained that an “exception here or there” would only kick-start the people-smuggling trade.
Family lawyer Carina Ford said the decision will ultimately come down to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
"The only way this family is going to stay, even if the court application is successful, is for the minister to intervene because he is the only one that holds that power," Ford said earlier this week.
The signs aren't positive.
Amid Labor's push for the family's freedom, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has accused the party of hypocrisy after immigration numbers given to The Australian showed the previous Labor federal governments removed 2631 Sri Lankan asylum seekers over the years in the three years up to 2013.
Labor Leader Anthony Albanase is heading to Biloela on Wednesday to hear from the local community ahead of Friday's ruling.